Thursday 19 October 2023

Little Man Tate, Rescue Rooms, Nottingham

Kicking off the evening are the Shambolics from Glasgow sporting three guitars, a bass player and a drummer. A proper old school set up even if the third guitarist does dabble on the keyboards from time to time. Unfortunately this energetic group of lads were only entertaining 29 people. I know the crowd was that small because I actually counted them. It does get gradually busier and I hope the band is pulling them in as they are decent.


It is much busier for tonight's main band, Little Man Tate, who come on to the Pearl and Dean music, you know 'bah bah bah', which is in fact called 'Asteroid', and then Carter USM's 'Sheriff Fatman'.

I have never actually seen Little Man Tate live before. I followed them loosely in their early days but after releasing two albums in two years they caught me by surprise when they broke up the following year. That was in 2009. I vowed to right that wrong when after an eleven year break they announced their re-formation in early 2020 but then of course Covid intervened.

Now here they are in Nottingham on a UK Tour and that wrong has finally be righted.

They get off to a flying start with three tracks from their debut album 'About What You Know' namely 'Man I Hate Your Band', 'European Lover' and 'What? What You Got' before they do that we’re going to play songs from our new album thing. Which would have been fine had that first album in over fifteen years 'Welcome To The Rest Of Your Life' been out but it isn’t until next month.  


So to play no less than six songs that are unfamiliar to the crowd is pushing your luck a bit but if anyone’s going to pull it off its frontman Jon Windle who isn't a man who lacks for confidence as he tells us that the first of these newbies called ‘Cheap Stolen Kisses’ is about his now ex-wife having an affair with her boss.

It’s all very entertaining stuff and of course they do intersperse the new material with more familiar crowd pleasers. This though, as they play non-album singles 'The Agent' from their early days and 'Boy in the Anorak' that came between albums as a download, brings us to another problem.

They have always been a band with a liking for one off singles, B-sides, bonus tracks and downloads before they were as fashionable as they are now. Which was one of the things that drew me to them. The problem is after such a long time away, for a fair weather fan like me, getting hold of such tracks is now rather difficult as I found prior to this gig. It has to be said that most of the crowd, who know everything, don’t have this problem and clearly grabbed all this stuff at the time. 

'This Must Be Love' from their debut is a show stopper towards the end but the actual set closers are two newbies '23' and 'Beautiful, Deadly & Mine'.

Initially Windle returns alone for the encore to play a couple of songs on my own because, in his own words, he's ‘an egotistical fucking wanker’.

Of course 'Half Empty Glass' was a B-side albeit a brilliant one and 'You and Me Might Be Alright You Know' was available only on the iTunes version of their debut album. I think us fair weather fans need a rarities album.

A fan, clearly not a fair weather one, is invited up on stage to do ‘You and Me’ with Windle and does it some style. Then the whole band return for 'Sexy in Latin' and 'House Party at Boothys' to finish things off.

Sunday 1 October 2023

The Joy Formidable, Rescue Rooms, Nottingham

There is a very packed stage equipment wise for support act The People Versus and there are effects pedals everywhere. So many trip hazards. Do health and safety know? I hope the band are small in number but oh no. There are six of them and at the end of their set they do freely acknowledge that not many bands will take a six piece support.  

In Alice Edwards they have a strong singer but who seems a bit indifferent to the crowd or perhaps this is just self-deprecating humour. This does take the edge off what is bouncy and fun performance but they seem more genuine by the end.

From a packed stage to a very stripped back setup for the threesome that are The Joy Formidable on the last date of their UK tour. There is even more space on stage for lead vocalist\guitarist Rhiannon Bryan and bassist Rhydian Dafydd with their unconventional set up that sees drummer Matt Thomas positioned sideways on at the front corner of the stage rather than tucked away at the back. This was a nice dynamic but I think they've always done this. For me there’s no substitute for seeing a band up close and in full flow so this is ideal as you rarely get to see the drummer so close up.

I confess that it's been a while since I last saw them. Having followed them closely right from when they started in 2007, I haven't actually seen them live since 2010. I have missed out because they've always been, well, formidable live and, as I soon discover, they still are.

The Rescue Rooms isn't full but it's busy and it's quite an old crowd as well. Perhaps they've all been in from the start. Unfortunately things have never really taken off for the band. Despite regularly securing decent support slots and doing quite well in the States they've never been able to move on from relatively small venues in this country. Tonight that is to benefit of everyone who's here. 

After starting with 'Caught on a Breeze', 'Sevier' and 'Ostrich' they finally pause for breath and the first of many long rambling chats ensues. These are occasionally with the audience but mostly among themselves. One of these before playing 'Into The Blue' turns to how much Covid affected a touring band such them and then somehow in to a discussion about sheds. 

We get some of the 'hits' such as 'Whirring' and 'Cradle' then they play a Welsh language song called 'Y Garreg Ateb' (the Answering Stone), which was a total belter, and then an acoustic version of 'I Don’t Want To See You Like This' before they close with their new single 'Share My Heat'.

They return to play 'Little Blimp' and then the slow-burning 'Left Too Soon', which seems apt as a show closer.

They are still formidable and still deserve to be much better known than they are.